Debunking Unproven COVID-19 Remedies

Sept. 21, 2022

During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in bulk buying led to many individuals lacking access to preventative materials, such as masks, soap, hand sanitizer, and more. Rural areas may have more difficulty accessing preventative materials, and with issues in the supply chain, may mean that they turn to at-home remedies more frequently. Without these valuable resources, and with an increase of disinformation, some individuals made or used unproven remedies to “cure” or “prevent” the onset of a COVID-19 infection. Fortunately two years later, there are fewer supply chain disruptions; however, some misinformation regarding homemade solutions still persist today. 

Hand sanitizer: Homemade hand sanitizer was one of the most common at-home “remedies” used during the pandemic. Most homemade hand sanitizers are made incorrectly, making them ineffective against pathogens, and even highly dangerous (e.g., having the potential to cause chemical burns). Hence, the  FDA has recommended that individuals not attempt to make hand sanitizer at home. If access to hand sanitizer is limited, it’s recommended to wash hands thoroughly using antibacterial or regular soap. Using soap can be more effective in eliminating and killing germs when compared to hand sanitizer. 

Medications and treatments: Another “remedy” that became popularized on social media in 2021 was Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medication. Ivermectin is not only highly ineffective at preventing or curing COVID-19 infections and symptoms, but taking the medication can be life-threatening if misused and without a healthcare provider’s supervision. If you encounter an individual who has concerns or questions about ivermectin, direct them to the FDA website and help them understand why it is not safe, and will not prevent or cure a COVID-19 infection.

Other common “remedies” include eating or ingesting various foods, such as garlic, lemon, hot peppers, and other herbs and spices, which will not cure or prevent COVID-19. 

The FDA has authorized certain antiviral medications to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 infections, including PaxlovidVekluryBebtelovimab, and Legevrio. These medications must be prescribed by a healthcare professional. The CDC also states that individuals can treat mild COVID-19 symptoms at home using over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), to help you feel better. If you have any questions regarding treatments or symptom alleviation for COVID-19, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.

Remind individuals to thoroughly research health “remedies” to ensure that they make healthy and responsible decisions. To find more information on how to help individuals find credible information, read about how to recognize and disseminate misinformation!